Saturday, April 22, 2006

the coen brothers are WEIRD

So, I continued my Coen Brothers theme last night, and watched Barton Fink. I was expecting something slightly oddball, because both Miller's Crossing and Blood Simple were not exactly "normal" movies. But, wow.... Barton Fink was really out there.
It's a movie about a writer who is hired to write a screenplay for a Hollywood firm. He doesn't initially want to, because he sees himself as an advocate for the "common man". But he eventually accepts, and is shipped off to California, where he checks in to the worst hotel on earth (which is almost certainly a metaphor for Hell). The employees are slimy or really old. The room is small (how barton even sleeps at night is a big question). The walls are slimy, and wallpaper constantly peels off due to the humidity.
A lot of the action deals with Barton’s next door neighbor, Charlie, who seems to epitomize the common man, but who I though might also be connected with the devil (he walks through flames at one point). Charlie and Barton become friends, as Barton tries to overcome a bad case of writer’s block, which is keeping him from writing his movie.
The major twist in the movie comes when Barton meets Aubrey, a famous author’s secretary. He somehow manages to get her to spend the night, only to wake up the next morning with her dead at his side. Barton is terrified but doesn’t call the police. Charlie helps him clean up the mess, and gives him a package, before disappearing.
In the end, it turns out that Charlie is a serial killer, and apparently a little super-natural. He bursts into the hotel in a wave of flames and shoots two policemen. It is a highly disturbing scene. Barton is spared, and his writer’s block broken. (It would seem by the mysterious package Charlie gave him).
In the end no one appreciates Barton’s writing, the company he works for “owns his writing soul” and he appears to be stuck in limbo or purgatory. He ends up sitting on the beach, with his package. I was seriously dreading seeing what was in the box (in the words of se7en “What’s in the box?!!!!!”). But, Barton never opens the box…. So I was left wondering what actually was left in the box.
All in all it was a very strange and creepy movie, but I enjoyed it more than Blood Simple. Still, I might have to watch it a few more times to totally understand what was going on.

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

BARTON FINK is a classic Coen bros. picture and you are on the right track with the hell imagery and what it is that Charlie might represent (as well as Hollywood).

There is a great cameo in the film by Tony Shaloub who plays a producer at the studios.

There also is an incredible bit of editing down at the beginning of the flick as we move from a NYC bar, to a huge rock getting hit by a wave, to Barton standing in the lobby of the Hotel Earle (For a day or a lifetime).